26 May – 20 August 2016
Curated by Bryony Fer
White Cube Hong Kong presents an exhibition of new work by Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco. This is the artist’s first exhibition in Hong Kong and comprises a new body of 65 watercolour paintings made in Tokyo during the last year.
Orozco developed his method of working in the early 1990s: selecting found or ready-made local materials, and deciding on a few basic ‘rules’ to adopt, in a kind of fictional exercise. This allows his work to be open or porous to the place it was made, as well as to the chance incidents that could upset even the strictest of systems.
The installation of watercolour paintings, propped against walls and placed on shelves, looks startlingly different from some of his best known works like Black Kites (1997)*, yet it has been made according to similar procedures and with the same intense interest in matter, process, movement and circulation.
The watercolours are painted on golden paper from a nearby Tokyo art suppliers. The ‘standards’, including the size of the brushes, being specific to Japanese traditions. Gold, in this context, is not a precious material but provides a light- reflective background for exploring the material properties of watercolour. Rather than making aesthetic colour choices, Orozco is more interested in colour as matter, and in the way it moves through successive states.
The medium of watercolour is often seen as marginal or trivial in the West yet is revered in China and Japan. Gestural brushstrokes of colour intersect with the axial points of a grid and Orozco’s distinctive lexicon of coloured circles or part-circles, transforming the categories of spontaneity and discipline within traditional Chinese painting through improvisational method.
In these paintings loosely grouped into landscapes, stains and shapes, he pays particular attention to processes of accumulation and accretion: patterns of circles or pools of pigment gather and collect across a range of different media. Rather than the conventional associations of a rational and mechanical order, Orozco makes geometry function as an extension of the natural world. So much so that, in his hands, claims about what is natural and what is artificial are always open to doubt.
About the artist:
Gabriel Orozco was born in Veracruz in Mexico in 1962 and works between Tokyo and Mexico City. His most recent solo show was at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo. A major retrospective in 2009 originated at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and travelled to the Centre Pompidou, Paris, the Kunstmuseum, Basel and Tate Modern London.
Briony Fer is a writer, academic and curator. She is Professor of History of Art at University College London and a Fellow of the British Academy. This is the second exhibition of Gabriel Orozco’s work that she has curated. The first was Gabriel Orozco Thinking in Circles at the Fruitmarket Gallery Edinburgh in 2012.
* Black Kites (1997). During a long convalescence, Gabriel Orozco covered a human skull with a graphite checkerboard that bends and swells over its bony contours. The skull can readily be understood as a memento mori, or reminder of death—a symbol common in the European still-life tradition as well as in the visual traditions of Orozco’s native Mexico. Yet Orozco’s sinewy network of lines brings the skull to life again, suggesting the thoughts that once filled this shell, or the sensate skin that covered it. Working at the interface between two-dimensional drawing and a three-dimensional object, Orozco draws attention to relationships between a surface and an interior world.
White Cube Hong Kong is open Tuesday – Saturday, 11am – 7pm
Admission is free
50 Connaught Road Central, Hong Kong
+852 2592 2000
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